« ForrigeFortsett »
mission having no jurisdiction, the further contention is that the railroad company can restrain its order because it will subject the company to the trouble and expense of the hearing, the probability of an order of reparation against it, and a multiplicity of suits, in which suits it will be confronted by the order of reparation as evidence without opportunity for judicial review of the strength and competency of the evidence.
The contentions and the recited consequences of the order of the Commission are met by opposing ones. The United States asserts that the action of the Commission fixing a day for the hearing of the complaints of the coal companies is not an order within the meaning of § 1 of the Act of June 18, 1910, creating the Commerce Court (36 Stat. 539), and the subsequent Act of October 22, 1913, abolishing that court and transferring the jurisdiction conferred upon it to the several district courts of the United States. (38 Stat. 208, 219.) It is only by virtue of those acts, it is said, that the United States can be sued and it is provided by them that the United States can only be sued in "cases brought to enjoin, set aside, annul, or suspend in whole or in part any order of the Interstate Commerce Commission." The Commission makes the same contention and some others and both it and the United States insist that the action of the Commission was not an order within the meaning of the cited provision. Procter & Gamble Co. v. United States, 225 U. S. 282, 293, is adduced as authority for the insistence.
The Procter & Gamble Company was the owner of 500 railroad tank cars used for the transportation of its products over the lines of certain railroads, and the company filed a complaint before the Interstate Commerce Commission complaining of demurrage rules of the railroad companies, which had been approved by the Commission, as unjust and oppressive and alleging that to enforce them would create preferences and discrimina
Opinion of the Court.
tions forbidden by the Interstate Commerce Act. The complaint was not sustained and an award of relief was denied.
244 U. S.
Thereupon the Procter & Gamble Company filed a petition in the Commerce Court in which the company repeated its accusations against the demurrage rules and charged also that the order of the Commission dismissing its complaint was null and void and beyond the power of the Commission in that it sustained the validity of the rules.
The Commerce Court held that it had jurisdiction of the cause and that, for the purpose of jurisdiction, the refusal of the Commission to afford the relief prayed for was the exact equivalent of an order granting affirmative relief, and, as a corollary of this power, it was further decided that there was jurisdiction to award pecuniary relief for demurrage if any was illegally exacted. On the merits the court decided against the Procter & Gamble Company.
This court reversed the ruling and held that the Commerce Court had no jurisdiction as the order of the Commission neither compelled "the doing or abstaining from doing of acts embraced by a previous affirmative command of the Commission." The reasoning of the court explored the whole act and omitted no circumstance which could bear on its construction and its efficacy for the purpose for which it was enacted. Considering the first and second subdivisions of § 1, (§ 207 of the Judicial Code,) which deals with the jurisdiction of the Commerce Court, it was said that the first "provides for the enforcement of orders, that is, the compelling of the doing or abstaining from doing of acts embraced by a previous affirmative command of the Commission;" and that the second, "dealing with the same subject from a reverse point of view, provides for the contingency of a complaint made to the court by one seeking to prevent the enforcement of orders of the Commission such as are contemplated by the first
244 U. S.
Opinion of the Court.
paragraph. In other words, by the coöperation of the two paragraphs, authority is given on the one hand, to enforce compliance with the orders of the Commission if lawful, and, on the other hand, power is conferred to stay the enforcement of an illegal order." Other provisions of the act were said to be as convincing.
It will thus be observed, as said by counsel for the Commission, "the power of a court 'to stay the enforcement of an illegal order' is, in a sense, reciprocal to its power to enforce compliance with an order of the Commission, 'if lawful.' And just as the district court would have been powerless, in the instant case, to compel the appellee to attend the hearing with respect to which the notice had been given, so also was it without lawful authority to annul that notice or to enjoin the Commission from proceeding in the premises." And again, as other counsel say, the alleged order was nothing more than notice of a hearing which the railroad company might attend or not, as it saw fit.
The notice, therefore, had no characteristic of an order, affirmative or negative. It was a mere incident in the proceeding, the accident of the occasion-in effect, and, it may be contended, in form, but a continuance of the hearing. The fact that the continuance was to another day and place did not change its substance or give it the character described in Procter & Gamble Co. v. United States, one which constrained the railroad company to obedience unless it was annulled or suspended by judicial decree.
It is not necessary to pass upon the other contentions of appellants.
Decree reversed and cause remanded with directions to grant the motions to dismiss the petition.
WEST v. EDWARD RUTLEDGE TIMBER
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.
No. 276. Argued May 7, 8, 1917.-Decided May 21, 1917.
The Act of March 2, 1899, c. 377, 30 Stat. 993, in providing for conveyance to the United States by the Northern Pacific Railroad Company of lands within the Mount Ranier National Park in exchange for public lands to be selected elsewhere, is to be construed as extending to that company's successor in title though no successor is named; and the Northern Pacific Railway Company, recognized as such successor by the Land Department both in the making of the conveyance of base lands and in the enjoyment of the right of lieu selection, is not to be denied that right upon the hypothesis that the Northern Pacific Railroad Company had ceased to exist before the date of the act.
In surveying and reporting on public lands, a deputy surveyor described them as suitable for grazing, if cleared, but more valuable for timber at the time. This having been accepted and acted upon by the Land Department as a description of the lands as nonmineral, Held, that they were to be regarded as "classified as nonmineral at the time of actual Government survey," for the purposes of lieu selection' by the Northern Pacific Railway Company under the Act of March 2, 1899, supra.
Whether a preliminary lieu selection of unsurveyed public land may be said to designate the tract "with a reasonable degree of certainty," under the Act of March 2, 1899, supra, is a question in the nature of a question of fact to be determined upon the circumstances of each case. A description in terms of future survey may suffice if the land may be located therefrom with the aid of an adjoining survey already made.
Semble, that the rule limiting inquiry in this court to questions presented to the court below (Montana Railway Co. v. Warren, 137 U. S. 348) is not confined to questions of procedure and is not inflexible.
221 Fed. Rep. 30, affirmed.
Statement of the Case.
SUIT by appellant West (he was plaintiff in the court below and we shall so refer to him) against appellees, the Edward Rutledge Timber Company and the Northern Pacific Railway Company (to be referred to as the timber company and railway company, respectively,) to have plaintiff declared the owner of certain described lands, the railway company and the timber company decreed to hold title thereto in trust for him, to compel a conveyance to him and to have his title to the lands quieted.
Plaintiff alleged himself qualified to locate and did locate and settle upon the lands, they being then unsurveyed and vacant, unoccupied and unreserved lands belonging to the United States as to which no claim of right or title to or interest in them had been made by any person, nor was there any evidence whatsoever upon the lands or any part thereof, or in the United States Land Office for the district (Coeur d'Alene Land District), or in the General Land Office in Washington showing any claim, right, title or interest in any other person, nor were there any marks, blazes, notices or any other evidence of the location, selection, claim or possession marked or traced upon the ground, or upon or near the same, nor had the boundaries thereof been traced or located by reference to any natural objects or monuments of any kind or character.
That on July 17, 1905, the official plat of the survey of the lands was filed in the local land office in Coeur d'Alene City, Idaho, and on that day the lands became open to entry under the homestead laws of the United States and on that day plaintiff duly made application to enter them under the homestead laws, which application was rejected by the local land office, and, on May 10, 1910, the order of rejection was approved by the Secretary of the Interior and the case finally closed.
That on June 21, 1901, the railway company filed in the General Land Office its selection list No. 61 which con